One of New Jersey’s few marijuana dispensaries is planning to expand, and they’re getting unlikely help in their efforts.
Compassionate Care Foundation, a dispensary in Egg Harbor Township in South Jersey – the only pot shop in that part of the state – is slated to open Oct. 15. On Sept. 12 the business was awarded a $357,000 low-interest loan from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to help it expand.
“I’m elated,” said CEO Bill Thomas. “This means the state recognizes us as a legitimate business.”
Waiting For Approval of The Loan
The loan, a first of it’s kind for a pot provider in the state, still awaits the signature of Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican. Christie has taken a sometimes contradictory stance on medical marijuana, though he has generally been supportive of patients in his decisions.
The Compassionate Care Foundation will pay off the loan at 4.65 percent interest. It required the approval not only of the Economic Development Authority but of the state attorney general.
How The Loan Would Help Dispensaries
The windfall will allow the dispensary to expand its grow center and add grow lights, generators, dehumidifiers and other equipment. And the Compassionate Care Foundation will be able to add 12 new jobs to the seven current employees.
Thomas told the Inquirer the pot shop is strained to capacity: It has the ability to serve up to 1,500 patients at one time, but that requires a regrowth period of three months before supplies are replenished.
With money from the loan, “we can triple our production from serving 500 patients a month to 1,500 a month,” Thomas said. More money, more equipment and more staff would allow the dispensary to serve a consistent patient base while continuously regrowing supplies.
New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Status
The New Jersey Legislature approved medical cannabis in 2010, but it didn’t become a reality for more than two years as Christie and state lawmakers wrangled over enforcement and public health consequences.
The first dispensary, Greenleaf Compassion Center of Montclair, opened in North Jersey in December. The Compassionate Care Foundation is expected to open Oct. 15. A third shop, Compassionate Sciences of Bellmawr, will open outside Philadelphia, and a fourth, the Compassionate Care Centers of America Foundation of Woodbridge in Central Jersey (not to be confused with the Compassionate Care Foundation), is slated for opening later this year.
Demand has already soared, with about 1,200 patients registered so far. Many more are expected as new dispensaries open throughout the state. Demand forced Greenleaf, the first shop in New Jersey, to close its doors all summer while it replenished its pot – the very situation the Compassionate Care Foundation wants to avoid.
That makes the Economic Development Authority loan a major coup for the dispensary.
“You don’t get much more mainstream than the Economic Development Authority,” said David Knowlton, chairman of the Compassionate Care Foundation board and a former deputy state health commissioner. “They are saying this is a mainstream public health issue.”